A guy named Dan on "Brownstoner," the site to which I'm currently most addicted, adds this delectable comment to their current discussion of a problematic brownstone for sale on Berkeley Place in Park Slope:
"Sales people suck in general, but real estate salespeople suck the chrome off a trailer hitch."
Hey, Dan, tell us how you really feel! Actually, I couldn't agree more. I'm sure there are some "real-estate professionals" (what's the story with everyone capitalizing "Realtors"? Some lobbyist got it trademarked?) to whom this does not apply. Well, okay, we met one during our search for the CrazyStable 20 years ago. Mary Kay Gallagher, the doyenne of Victorian Flatbush realty, was a class act--treated us and our grubby little fistful of dollars with respect, and seemed genuinely regretful that she had nothing to show us but a barn of a place next to a feral apartment building from whose open windows music blared and screams punctuated the night. (Hardly her typical offering, but the only thing in our price range.) The "real estate professional" who showed us the CrazyStable was a slob named Charlie, or as I privately dubbed him, "Charlie Nose-Hair." (I don't recall much else about Charlie, although a walrus mustache, a pot belly, and the smell of ashtray seem to come to mind.) In his filthy bucket of a car, he drove us up to the Stable and stood around stone-faced, as we navigated its bizarre maze of rooms. (See "The Bad Beginning" at right for details.) I suppose one can't blame him for not trying to "sell" the place--it would have taken greater interpersonal and verbal gifts than those of Charlie Nose-Hair to rev up enthusiasm for a house with a plank instead of front porch steps. But I detected an actual whiff of contempt from this sub-Mamet specimen--for us, for Chang and his tenants, for the place itself, for the entire nabe. Then at closing, he and some guy from another agency, who had co-listed the Stable on the "MLS" ("Multiple Listing Service," or "Many Lousy Stables") split a handsome commission, presumbly for having given us a lift after we showed up with a circled ad from the Times. Had I been Chang, forking over this princely sum from my take-away cash from the house sale, I would have leapt across the lawyer's desk and throttled both of them. As Basil Fawlty told Manuel, while smacking him on the head: "You [smack] are a waste of space."
Well, Brownstoner reminded me that real-estate salesmammal follies are not confined to us bottom-feeders. Apparently the astute and affluent prospects on Berkeley Place have been treated to equally shifty and clownish doings, including putting up with complaints from an agent in teetering high heels about going up and down the stairs. She would have loved walking the plank!